Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, Well-designed backpack option and day pack
Cons: Tips easily, Smaller internal capacity
Best Uses: More geared toward adventure travel, Better for lighter packers
For this review, we tested four bags that convert from rolling bags into backpacks and three bags that had detachable daypacks, including the Osprey Meridian Wheeled Convertible Luggage - 22”, the Patagonia MLC Wheelie, the REI Stratocruiser Wheeled Luggage - 22”, and the Osprey Ozone. Although we aren't wholly convinced that convertible carry-ons are all that useful (see our buying advice guide: How to Choose Carry-on Luggage for a full discussion), we wanted to highlight the highest performing piece in this category with a Top Pick Award. We chose to give this award to the Osprey Ozone. Although this bag does not have the largest internal capacity, its detachable daypack design and convertible backpack features are more fine-tuned than its competitors. Moreover, it is remarkably light: without the daypack, this bag weighs in at 4 lbs 12 oz, which is a full pound lighter than most of the other carry-ons in this review. Unfortunately, though, the sacrifice in weight (especially in framing around the base) makes the Ozone more tippy than most other pieces. This bag measures 22 x 14 x 9 (without the daypack) and has a cool techy look, big sturdy wheels, and a T-bar telescoping handle. When it's all said and done, if you are looking for convertible luggage, we think that the Osprey Ozone is definitely the piece to spring for.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The recently released Osprey Ozone has lightweight hideaway backpack straps, a useful detachable daypack, and a sturdy rolling design. Read on as we outline how the Osprey Ozone's techy features and overall design helped it win one of our Top Pick Awards.
Ease of Transport
The lightweight Osprey Ozone is very easy to pull thanks to its large sturdy wheels and telescoping handle that adjusts to two heights. Since it weighs less than five pounds, it's also easy on the arms. As we mentioned above, our biggest complaint about this carry-on is that it tips over easily, which can certainly be a big annoying during transit. The Ozone also has lightly padded handles on both sides and the top for convenient carrying.
We were pleasantly surprised when we first tried out this bag's convertible backpack feature. Unlike the Osprey Meridian, which has bulky backpack straps and a hip belt that were hard to pack away and pull out, the Ozone's straps are much thinner and easier to use on the fly. Once you're ready to transition into backpack mode, simply unzip the hideaway flap, pull the straps aside and clip the upper load stabilizing buckles in place. Then pull the lumbar support and hip belt down and clip them in place on the underside of the plastic frame. The straps are made of mesh and lightweight foam; we're not sure how well they will hold up over time, but since you will probably not use the backpack feature all the time, we think that this was a worthy sacrifice. It's also important to note here that the hip belt was a bit too big for our 125-pound tester. If you are concerned about long term durability of your backpack straps, it may be worth considering one of the other convertible bags in this review.
The manufacturer's specifications report that the Osprey Ozone has a 35-liter internal capacity, placing it on the smaller end of the spectrum. However, during our pack test, this bag held more than the Patagonia MLC Wheelie, which is also purportedly 35 liters. When we packed up the MLC Wheelie, we couldn't fit either pair of shoes or the bathroom bag, but when we packed up the Ozone, we were able to fit the tennis shoes in (leaving out the heels and the bathroom bag). If you are really concerned with internal capacity, the REI Stratocruiser may be the way to go (in the convertible luggage category), but if you're capable of limiting just a few items, then we think that the Ozone is the way to go.
Let's start off by talking about the Ozone's detachable daypack. Again, we're not totally convinced that bringing a detachable daypack as your personal item is the easiest way to travel, but if you're psyched on it, then the Ozone is your best option. Here's why: if the daypack is your personal item, you almost certainly have everything that is really important (wallet, phone, etc.) in that bag. If you decide to use the main pack in backpack mode, you either have to kangaroo carry the daypack (awkward and uncomfortable) or clip it to the back far away from your person (difficult to access important items and easier for pickpockets to get into). However, when Osprey's experts designed the Ozone, they alleviated this major flaw by adding clips to the front shoulder straps, allowing you to clip your daypack in place in front of you. It doesn't look all that cool, but it gets the job done. When you do want to put your daypack back onto the bag, you zip it in place, clip it at the top and use two toggles to secure it at the bottom.
The daypack includes two exterior water bottle pockets (perfect for Klean Kanteen size bottles), a well-padded laptop sleeve, and useful organizer pockets. Features on the main bag include an exterior pocket just below the top handle for important items, lockable zippers, internal compression straps, and three internal pockets. It also has external compression straps to help cinch down the load.
Durability & Construction
As one of the lightest bags in this review, the Ozone does sacrifice a bit on durability. The fabrics used are some of the thinnest (210D nylon) and the zippers are not very bulky. We mentioned previously that the backpack straps and hip belt also used thinner materials (primarily mesh and lightweight foam) that will probably break down more quickly over time than the full strength straps on the Osprey Meridian; however, the thinner straps make them far easier to use. The handle and wheels are both quite sturdy, as is the lightweight framing system that gives this bag its shape.
We've been talking about the Ozone's weight throughout this review, but at less than five pounds (without the daypack), we really are amazed at how light it is. Even with the one-pound daypack, it is still one of the lightest bags in the review. As we mentioned previously, you do sacrifice a bit on durability, but this bag will be easier to lift into the overhead bin or throw over your shoulder as a backpack.
Unlike the Osprey Meridian, which seems big and bulky, the Osprey Ozone has a sleek, techy look to it. It's not necessarily that bag you would want to choose for a formal business trip, but it is a better looking bag than the REI Wheely Beast 21 or the REI Stratocruiser. Probably our biggest complaint in this department is that the detachable daypack zipper isn't camouflaged when the daypack is in use. On the Meridian, there is a flap of fabric that hides this zipper when the daypack is removed, making the main bag look totally normal on its own. With the Ozone, the zipper remains in plain sight; it's not a huge flaw, but it's one that's worth noting.
We think that the Osprey Ozone is best suited for more adventure travel, but it would also work well for general airline travel, especially for individuals who appreciate having a daypack once they arrive at their destination. Because of its smaller internal capacity, this bag is perhaps best suited to lighter packers, as a complement to a checked bag, or for shorter trips.
At $299, the Ozone is the second most expensive carry-on in this review. That said, if you are convinced that you want/need convertible luggage, we think it's worth shelling out the extra bucks for this bag, especially given that the detachable daypack clips conveniently and safely to the front shoulder straps. Plus the Ozone is backed by Osprey's lifetime warranty.
There are several features that really make the Osprey Ozone stand out from its competitors. Although it sacrifices some durability, this bag is super lightweight and has a number of improved design aspects. For a techy looking bag that is not convertible and half the price of the Ozone, check out the REI Wheely Beast, our Best Buy Award winner.
The Ozone comes in a 28” version that has an internal capacity of 70 liters.
— Amanda Fenn
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Most recent review: October 21, 2013
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